CHICAGO August 19, 2014 – When Father Robert Barron founded Word on Fire Catholic Ministries in 2000 and launched WordOnFire.org, the goal was simple: to share his homilies online.
“I liked the idea of sending my homilies to a wider audience, all over the world. That’s something many great evangelists throughout history would have given their right arms for. But I had no idea how quickly this ministry would grow.”
Over the next several years, Father Barron added YouTube commentaries, weekly articles, and daily blog posts. Soon, WordOnFire.org became one of the most popular Catholic websites in the world, drawing over 1.3 million unique visitors per year.
“Through attracting millions of visitors, we knew our website was helping people. But we also knew the Internet was evolving. Mobile devices were on the rise and new trends in web design pushed us forward. We discerned it was time to revamp our website and create a stunning, innovative site unlike anything else out there.”
Working with AM Design, an award-winning development studio based in Texas, the Word on Fire team spent a year researching and planning. The result is a beautiful and elegant website packed with new features. The homepage features a full screen video background, which randomly rotates on each visit. The team also improved the navigation and functionality.
“One of the most innovative features is the tagging,” explains Father Barron, “On the old website, it was hard to find what you needed. So we spent hundreds of hours reviewing all my past content, carefully tagging each resource. Now, you can look up a favorite topic, a verse in the Bible, a paragraph in the Catechism, or a week in the liturgical calendar and find all the content I’ve ever produced on it. This is a real game-changer for the Church.”
A video trailer for the website, produced by Spirit Juice Studios, highlights other exciting features.
“The new WordOnFire.org is mobile responsive,” Father Barron explains in the trailer. “Our analytics show that roughly 50% of visitors access our website on a phone or tablet. But on the old site, users had a really hard time. They had to pinch and zoom and scroll, just to read the text. The new site dynamically resizes based on your device. That means it looks great on any computer, phone, or tablet.”
Father Barron is quick to note, however, that the upgraded website serves a more important function.
“The Church exists to evangelize,” says Father Barron, “and that’s ultimately why our website exists, too. The new media provide extraordinary ways to carry out the Church’s mission. We revamped our website to serve as a better vehicle for drawing people to Christ, especially those on the religious peripheries, many of whom are online, giving them access to all the gifts that Jesus wants them to enjoy.”